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The security sector reform debate in post-independant Africa south of the Sahara : a critical ethical investigation based on the concepts of sovereignty and anarchy.

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The Security Sector Reform (SSR) is a concept that first emerged in the 1990s in Eastern Europe. It was propagated by Short in the post-cold war era under the guise of a development agenda and the need for democratisation of Security Sector Institutions (SSIs) which would result in enhancing the rule of law in Sub-Saharan Africa. The main argument from its proponents was that this new political and economic dispensation could improve sustainable development, democracy, peace and stability. However, critiques have observed that the SSR concept has been maliciously employed by the West to destroy local governance structures of the Security Sector (SS) in order to benefit the Northern countries’ political and economic policies. Evidence of the negative repercussions of Security Sector Reform initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East can be witnessed in the DRC, Mozambique, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan’s inability to contain rebel or terrorist groups within their territories. This is despite the fact that the above countries underwent Western initiated models of SSR. This thesis argues that proponents of SSR end up prescribing how SSR should be done in their former colonies in Africa with the objective of weakening this sector by advancing a neo-colonial agenda. I further argue that the neo-colonial agenda is propagated by civil society organisations funded by Western countries to advance Western interests in former European colonies in Africa. The call for SSR in Sub-Saharan Africa is done through CSO and neo-liberal academics under the guise of wanting to democratise SSI and directing money to development projects. It has been observed that this sheep-in-wolf concept has been carefully planned to cover the underground Western interests as happened in Libya. In fact, these advocates of SSR want continued substance of their interests which is access to the continent’s natural resources. The study observes that the debate calling for SSR in Sub-Saharan Africa seeks to portray an immediate need for military reforms that might compromise the sovereignty of the continent. The other argument also advanced by the proponents of SSR is that it will enhance and improve democratic oversight and good governance of the SSR. The major claim here is that SSR will end violence in Africa thereby bringing sustainable peace and a secure environment which will later allow economic development. However, despite this noble claim of wanting to create a peaceful situation that allows economic development, evidence to the contrary has been given. Examples of worse scenarios created by such hideous claims are Mozambique, Libya, Central African Republic, Mali and DRC just to mention a few. In these SSIs have resulted in failure to discharge the mandate of protecting national interests and state sovereignty resulting in these countries experiencing anarchic situations. I argue that democratisation of the military, if it means enhancing of institutional capacity to respect humanity while at the same time strengthening the need to protect, defend and safeguard the national interests and state sovereignty can then be regarded as plausible. However, some reformed militaries have nearly totally collapsed in the face of attacks by rebels, insurgents and terrorist groups as exemplified by Islamic State of Iraq,(ISI) in Iraq, Boko Haram in Nigeria, M23 in the DRC and Renamo in Mozambique thereby creating anarchic scenarios that have devastating effects on humanity. There is also the argument of gender equity through which the reformists want to see fifty-fifty women representation in the security sector. The debate on SSR that seeks to increase the women quota in African SSIs with no regards to their competencies seems to be advancing an unethical agenda that has the potential of weakening Africa’s SSIs. In this regard, my critique of SSR is based on that it is against the protection of the principles of the revolutionary struggle which demands a complementary role of the civil authorities and the military. This thesis concludes that the SSR concept is immoral in the sense that it seeks to disconnect and disorient the SSIs from effectively and efficiently safeguarding the continental peace and stability. My special argument therefore is that SSR concepts must be locally designed and the SSR process must be locally owned as well to create a complementary role between stakeholders such as the executive, military and CSOs resulting in the protection of the continent’s liberation principles and values thereby creating an enabling environment for inclusive socio-economic development.


Doctor of Philosophy in Ethics. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg 2017.


Theses - Ethics Studies.